As far as fantasies go, mine is pretty tame. I've had the same one for about eight years. I know this precisely because I've been a mother for eight years, and that's when my special fantasy first came into being. In some of my darkest moments, I dream of my own private apartment.
Until fairly recently, this fantasy centered on sleep. A dark, peaceful room with a humming fan was central to the whole idea. Over time, the apartment fantasy began to arise from an overwhelming urge to not be touched or spoken to--to be able to use the bathroom without interruption, to be at the computer without someone on my lap or reading over my shoulder, to complete a thought or task uninterrupted.
What's nice about my fantasy is that it stays constant but fills ever-evolving needs. Recently, I have added to the apartment fantasy the fact that when I put things away, they will stay there. In Fantasy Apartmentland, there is a place for everything, and everything stays in its place unless I wish otherwise.
One of my kids had school vacation last week, so the full-time job of picking up stuff seemed more onerous than usual. While thinking about my imaginary pristine apartment, I chastised myself for failing to appreciate the beauty of living alone when I did. That's when I had an overwhelming realization--I have never--ever--lived alone.
I lived independently. Other than summers in college, I haven't lived with my parents since high school, and I didn't get married until I was 29. I had a real grown-up job, with a real grown-up salary, and some marginally grown-up apartments. However, I lived in a dorm all through college, had a roommate in law school, and moved in with my now-husband before I'd even taken the bar exam. I was independent, but never alone.
I suppose this isn't uncommon. Financial reasons alone cause most people to have roommates in their younger years. When I did become financially independent, it was love that got me a roommate.
Until we had children--heck, until last week--I never thought twice about this. It wasn't like the apartments we shared for eight years pre-kids required a great deal of work on my behalf, and it wasn't like I needed alone time. Most of the time, one or both of us was traveling or working around the clock, so the apartment was fairly neat and we had a great time when we were together. It's more the principle of the thing that bothers me. Like there was an opportunity I missed.
For now, I have my fantasy apartment. It is tidy and orderly, quiet and peaceful. There are no crafts, Legos, or hair accessories there. There is a cozy bed, a comfortable reading chair, and many bookshelves. If you're nice to me and promise to put everything back in its place before you leave, I may let you visit my apartment when you need some alone time. That is, if I'm not already there, taking a nap.